Gardeners in Florida have the ability to grow many varieties of plants due to the state’s year-round, warm temperatures. Many plants that act as annuals in cooler regions of the United States flourish as perennials in Florida’s subtropical climate. Choices include many flowering annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs and trees. Areas located in the south-central and southern regions of the state are normally frost-free, whereas areas in the northern region experience annual frosts and freezes.
Cross vine (Bignonia capreolata) is a native, perennial, evergreen vine that grows relatively fast. The vine, also called trumpet vine, grows well throughout USDA zones 8 and 9 within the state. Plants have deep green oval-like foliage and produce orange-red trumpet-like flowers, which start their blooming season in spring. The flowers attract hummingbirds, making the vine suitable for use in native, butterfly and wildlife gardens. The vine’s optimal light conditions are partial shade, but it tolerates growing in both full sun and full shade. Its height and spread are variable. Cross vine grows in a wide range of well-draining soils and has a high drought tolerance and medium tolerance to salt.
Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica), also called Japanese plum, is a fruit tree that produces yellow-golden, edible plum-like fruits. It grows well throughout the entire state. It is an attractive, small tree growing up to 20 to 30 feet in height with a spread of approximately 35 feet. Foliage is coarsely textured and cream flowers form in bunches at the ends of branches throughout fall and winter followed by the fruit. The tree is suitable for use as a specimen or in native or wildlife gardens as wildlife uses the fruit as a food source. It grows best in full to partial sun and has a medium tolerance to both salt and drought.
Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) is a perennial flowering plant in areas of Florida that are frost-free. It acts as an annual in north Florida where frosts and freezes are a regular occurring event. It grows relatively quickly reaching a mature height of 1 to 3 feet with a spreading habit of about 1 foot. Throughout summer, white or blue, smallish flowers grow on long spikes. It prefers growing in well-draining soils situated in full sun. Plants have a medium drought tolerance but perform best with regular water applications. It works well planted in containers and mixed gardens.
Royal poinciana (Delonix regia) is an attractive, fast-growing tree that grows well in frost-free areas of Florida located in USDA zones 10 and 11. Trees require a large space in the landscape as they grow up to 40 feet tall and have a spread of up to 60 feet at maturity. The tree’s canopy fills with a mass of bright, orange-red flowers throughout summer, almost blocking out any remaining foliage. It works well as a specimen tree. It prefers growing in well-draining soils located in full sun. Plants have a high drought tolerance and medium tolerance to salt.